I would like to think that if we make it through the persistent financial troubles of our age and eventually return to some semblance of economic prosperity, the inevitable crash that follows on a few years after will be met with the knowledge that austerity is not a solution to recession, because we have run that experiment this time around it is impossible to argue otherwise, but I know that it's not gonna be the case. Because we're not gonna make it through the persistent financial troubles of our age. It's all downhill from here, folks! Watch out for those fires.
Today a person was totally annoyed by some minor downtime on a free Internet service, and immediately took to another free Internet service to complain about it. "Ugh, OMG, I'm so annoyed, this stupid thing suuuucks!!!!" the person typed to all their online friends and acquaintances.
The free service had reported 99.7% uptime in the last quarter, spending $91,000 a month on more than 100 servers, with two engineers on payroll to deal with uptime and service issues.
As jobless claims continue to spiral, and desperate Americans start ransacking their retirement accounts for sustenance, the US economy looks like it's developed much the same allergy to productive labor that's long afflicted the Kardashian clan. And now comes Washington Post business writer Neil Irwin to observe that employers aren't adding jobs-even with corporate profits increasing-for a simple reason: They aren't convinced that a broader recovery is going to take. As Irwin explains, it comes down largely to sluggish demand: CEOs believe "U.S. consumers are destined to disappoint for many years. As a result, they say, the economy is unlikely to see the kind of almost [...]
Next week, MTV will debut the new reality show MTV Hired, which is sort of like Made with résumé counseling; young people will be given the chance to go for the job of their dreams, and taught dos and don'ts of job-hunting involving things like folding your résumé so it fits in your jacket pocket (don't!) and knowing the nuts and bolts of the companies being applied to (do!). The candidates get interviewed and talked about behind their backs and eventually one person "wins" the job, while the others are forced back into the world of checking Craigslist and watching MTV all day. Since the term "dream job" [...]
Sarah Palin is in Hong Kong, addressing the CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets global investment managers' forum. What did she have to say? "We got into this mess because of government interference in the first place. We're not interested in government fixes, we're interested in freedom." That's right! That's what caused the worldwide financial crisis: TOO MUCH REGULATION! And then there was this.
Let's talk money: Everything's going crazy! The White House today announced that "U.S. unemployment would be higher and the budget deficit larger than previously thought," to the tune of $9 trillion, or $2 trillion more than previous estimates. The new numbers are in line with earlier estimates by the Congressional Budget Office, which will give its own revised figures later today. Meanwhile, President Obama indicated that he will give Ben Bernanke another term as Chairman of the Federal Reserve, because he wants to keep intact the team that saved us from another depression and the last thing he needs right now is a tough confirmation battle.
"Fears Rise That Economy May Falter in the Spring"; "Economic Reports Fan Fears": Both the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal are going real big today on the surprising news that the economy might not be "good" over the next few months. Oh noes! What did we know and when did we know it!?
Well, on April 11th, Goldman Sachs published a U.S. Daily report headlined "A Road Map for Sluggish Q2 Growth," which said pretty much the same thing, well in advance of the job numbers released yesterday: "After months of stronger-than-expected data, the US economy has started to lose momentum." They also cite [...]
Today's New York City Groupon offering is a 50% discount at Housing Works' nonprofit thrift stores, which raise money to assist people living with HIV. For $20, you can receive $40 worth of things! Oh, just FYI: "A pair of designer shoes that sells for $40 in one of our stores provides ten days worth of hot meals for a homeless HIV+ mother and her child." Enjoy your discount. :(
A long time ago I was involved in an attempt to finance the buyout of a card club in LA. It was quite a profitable business, doing about $100 million a year in revenues, on which it cleared close to $30 million after cash expenses. They made their money by charging people to sit at a table and play poker, taking a little piece of each hand. That way they could get away with not being a gambling establishment, which would have been illegal in Los Angeles, because they weren't actually a participant in the game; they were just a venue where people happened to sit down and play [...]
The economy is terrible right now. Almost everybody seems to agree. The business community, as represented by the US Chamber of Commerce, the Business Roundtable and most Republicans, has some ideas as to how to fix it: cut taxes; reduce the deficit (!); rein in Big Government spending (except defense); stop over-regulating business so they can get on with business. The Democrats have their own idea: more stimulus, in the form of, for example, extending unemployment benefits. Who's right? If anybody?
"This recovery is going to look like the Nike swoosh." -Timken Company CEO Jim Griffith, who pontificated about his "hopeful but cautious" outlook for the American economy to Reuters. Griffith, whose company manufactures bearings and alloy steels and other associated items, was referring to the "gentle curve" presented by the omnipresent logo. But really, why not take this idea further and have Nike (current market cap: somewhere in the $37 billion range) lead the way in recovery-related investments — and then brand the effort with their trademark swoosh? It would make for some great brand association, not to mention that it would boost consumer confidence like nobody's [...]
Tough times for Bertelsmann, owner of (among other things) Random House: "Anyone seeking a summary of the publishing industry's woes needs look no further than first-half results from Bertelsmann. The privately held German group's swing to a Ã¢â€šÂ¬333m net loss in the six months to June reflects both this year's steep advertising downturn and the longer-term structural shift under way in the media business, as companies grapple with fragmenting audiences and the changing economics of the digital age. Rivals could be forgiven for wincing as Europe's biggest publisher warned that a Ã¢â€šÂ¬900m cost-cutting drive may not be enough to prevent a full-year net loss."
The next line, if [...]
Moody's economist Mark Zandi on news that the American economy shed a mere 247,000 jobs-the lowest number in a year!-last month: "The trend lines are positive. We are going from massive job losses to just big job losses on our way to a stable job market, I think by next spring." Awesome! If we can make it through winter, we're gonna be just fine!
"Dog counseling has been in demand in Hawaii County since early last year, when county commissioners passed an ordinance banning "barks, bays, cries, howls" that go on continuously for 10 minutes, or intermittently for 20 minutes within a half-hour. Police can write barking tickets or sentence an incessant howler to a humane shelter…. Dogs probably aren't yowling more than before. Instead, officials in places like Hawaii County speculate that barking complaints have risen in part because more people are home to hear the yapping after losing their jobs."
"During the decade-long real estate bubble preceding the global financial crisis, a bubble that itself strikingly resembled Mr. Madoff’s Ponzi scheme, the world’s largest financial institutions earned several hundred billion dollars in fake profits. Some of them made billions by using derivatives to bet against the very investments they sold to their customers as safe. A large percentage of these profits were then personally appropriated by the top 1 per cent in the financial sector. Yet despite substantial evidence of large-scale fraud, nobody has gone to jail, nobody’s compensation has been clawed back, and only a few firms have paid even trivial fines." —It's funny how you can see something [...]
The bright side of unemployment: "According to new data unveiled by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics last week, there were 4,430 workplace fatalities last year compared with 5,214 in 2008. While firms in America's most dangerous industries would love to toast a triumph of workplace safety in the 21st century, there's no escaping the fact that fewer jobs, in general, existed last year."
I was correct! The Times Economix blog, the AP, Reuters, CNBC and the Telegraph have all agreed in the last hour the that U.S. economy is losing steam! Noooo! Our steam! Without the steam, we are lost! I don't have any steam left to give either. What about our giant steam engines? That once made all our precious steam? Sad day…. for steam and its enthusiasts. (No but seriously we're maybe as screwed as I've always said we would be, which is weird and unlikely!)
In 2002, the Wall Street Journal was $189 a month. (That's because you got it at your desk and your company paid for it.) It's never been that expensive on the newsstand, at least-though they raised their newsstand price from $1 to $1.50 in July, 2007. It charges $2 a week-or $1, for subscribers-to read the paper on mobile devices. Or, in this new wonderful era, you could get all six issues delivered each week, for $9.99 a month. For, you know, basically 38 cents an issue.
Today's wacky A1 story in the Wall Street Journal is about how, in these trying economic times, people are cutting their own hair, often with comical results! I'm not sure if this is a bona fide trend or just the peg for a funny frontpiece, but it puts me in mind of something I was thinking about this weekend: If we really are entering a new Era of Frugality, where we're not spending everything we make and then some on gadgets and personal grooming supplies, are we headed into an environment where we start to resemble the denizens of that last historical era of malaise, the 70s? I [...]